The Green Bay Packers are set to open training camp later this month. This is the next in a series of articles previewing the Packers position by position, analyzing the talent on the roster and discussing key questions that are facing the Packers as they begin preparation for the 2022 season.

Today we look at the wide receivers. For our look at the quarterbacks, click here and for running backs, click here.  We will examine another position each day until the start of training camp.

  1. Allen Lazard

Lazard has proven himself to be a reliable role player as the team’s second or third receiver, but what can he do if he is the top target among the receivers? This will be a test to see what Lazard can do without Adams lining up opposite him and drawing the opposition’s best defenders to him.

Last season, Lazard had a career-high 40 catches for 513 yards and eight touchdowns. He is a reliable route runner with good hands and he has earned the trust of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Lazard lacks the speed to be an elite receiver in this league but he needs to prove he can be a reliable first or second option in the Matt LaFleur offense and that will be enough for the Packers.

  1. Sammy Watkins

This is a key season for Watkins who is looking to re-establish himself as a starting receiver in the NFL. When he’s healthy, Watkins has speed and good hands and he has a 1,000-yard season on his resume. But the former Clemson star has not played every game in an NFL season since his rookie season back in 2014.

Watkins has experience working with LaFleur who was with the Rams when the receiver played there in 2017.

Last season, Watkins had a career-low 27 catches for 394 yards and one score in 13 games with the Ravens.

The Packers are hoping Watkins can stay healthy and provide the team with a speedy reliable outside threat. If he can do that, he can re-establish himself as a quality NFL receiver. If not, he may have trouble signing anything more than a one-year, prove-it, deal for close to the veteran minimum.

  1. Randall Cobb

Cobb gives the Packers an experienced slot receiver who has good chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. He finished last season with 28 catches for 375 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games.

Cobb’s lack of size has slowed him down in recent years and he hasn’t played a full season since 2015. The Packers need a healthy and consistent season from Cobb who will also help mentor the team’s younger receivers.

While Cobb doesn’t have the speed he had earlier in his career, he is smart and knows how to get lost in traffic in the middle of the field.

  1. Christian Watson

The Packers second-round pick has all the measurables you want in a wide receiver but needs to quickly acclimate to the NFL game and earn the trust of his quarterback.

Watson is 6’5” and 200 pounds and has outstanding speed. He exceled in college at catching the deep ball. What he lacks is experience at route running as North Dakota State ran a run-heavy offense that didn’t feature an extensive number of pass patterns. He also had 16 drops in college and needs to use proper form when catching passes.

The sooner Watson improves his technique and learns the playbook, the quicker he can be an impact player in this league. The big question is whether that happens this season or later in his career.

  1. Amari Rodgers

Like many rookies, Amari Rodgers struggled through his first NFL campaign, catching just four passes for 45 yards all season while also struggling at returning punts and kickoffs.

During the offseason, Rodgers took off some of the weight he put on a year ago in anticipation of playing the NFL. That should give him back some of the quickness and explosiveness that made him so successful at Clemson.

Rodgers will see more action in the slot and maybe on the outside as well. The Packers need him to take a step forward and be a contributor to the offense in year two of his NFL career.

  1. Romeo Doubs

The Packers added Doubs in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Doubs may not have as much upside as Watson but he may be ready to contribute sooner because he played college football at a higher level and ran more extensive pass patterns at Nevada than Watson did at North Dakota State.

Doubs has deep speed and at 6’2” and 200, has good size as well. Much like Watson, the big question is how quickly Doubs can pick up the offense and earn his quarterback’s trust. If he can be a steady contributor by the end of the season, it will give the Packers another weapon to add to the offense.

  1. Juwann Winfree

Winfree has been with the Packers for the past two seasons in a reserve and special teams role. Last season, he caught eight passes for 58 yards in seven games.

The former Colorado star will turn 26 before the season starts and it’s time for him to show he can be a bigger part of the offense.

Winfree will be fighting for a roster spot after the team drafted three wideouts this year and signed Watkins as a free agent. He will need another strong training camp and preseason to stick around.

  1. Malik Taylor

Like Winfree, Taylor is entering his third season with the Packers. Last year, he played in 10 games and returned punts while catching two passes for 14 yards.

Taylor has had some very strong preseasons but has yet to prove he can contribute consistently when the games count. His ability to return punts may help him earn a roster spot but the Packers have other candidates with more potential while Taylor is reliable if unspectacular at the job.

Taylor is also fighting for a roster spot and may have his work cut out for him.

  1. Samori Toure

Toure was selected in the seventh round of this year’s draft and is already 24 years old. Toure may be a practice squad candidate or he could make the roster based on his ability to contribute on special teams.

The former Nebraska star led the Big 10 in average yards per catch and has the ability to catch long passes.

The crowd at the position will be Toure’s biggest challenge as a rookie and he may need a year on the practice squad before being ready to earn a full-time job with the Pack.

  1. Danny Davis

The former Wisconsin star faces an uphill battle in the fight for a roster spot since the Packers will likely keep six receivers on the roster, seven at most. Davis has good hands and is a reliable route runner but he wasn’t drafted because he lacks the elite athleticism of some of the players drafted ahead of him.

Special teams may be his best way to earn a roster spot.

Three Key Questions

  1. Can the Group Pick Up the Slack After the Departure of Davante Adams

Adams was one of the best receivers in the game and Rodgers’ favorite target. He set a Packers franchise single-season records last year in catches and was named All Pro. Now he is with the Raiders while speedy Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed with the Chiefs.

While no one player is likely to fill all over Adams’ past production, the Packers receiving corps needs to be effective as a unit and provide their quarterback with workable options on every play. Look for the ball to be spread around more and for LaFleur to scheme more players open this season.

  1. How Quickly Can the Rookies Contribute?

Watson, Doubs and Toure all have potential but as Rodgers said, he prefers production to potential and the Packers need production. Most rookie receivers struggle in their first NFL season. The Packers will likely need at least one of the rookies to be a consistent contributor by the end of the season for the offense to reach its potential.

If the three rookies don’t contribute immediately, Amari Rodgers also remains a candidate to take a step up and give the offense more.

  1. Who Will Earn Rodgers’ Trust?

Aaron Rodgers has a reputation for being slow to trust young receivers. That will be put to the test this season. Without Adams available, Rodgers will have to learn to trust his remaining pass catchers to make the offense work. He will also have to trust LaFleur’s play calling and his ability to scheme receivers open.

The quicker Rodgers does this, the better the offense will run.


Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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